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Who are India’s future coaching options?

by Divy Tripathi 4 minute read

With the present Indian coach Ravi Shastri clearly stating that he won’t be overstaying his welcome after the T20 World Cup in an interview to The Guardian, it’s likely India will have a new head coach in the not too distant future. Divy Tripathi looks at the candidates.

While Ravi Shastri continues to garner as much attention as any major Indian player, the results show that his tenure has been a largely successful one.

India’s next head coach will take over a largely successful side and will be expected to add to the major white-ball trophy cabinet. Let’s take a look at some of India’s future coaching options:

Anil Kumble

India’s former head coach Anil Kumble remains a good choice for the post he held back between 2016 and 2017. Before his acrimonious exit after the Champions Trophy in 2017, he managed to deliver a string of victories both home and away.

He saw success against England, Australia, New Zealand, and Bangladesh in what was a very successful extended home winter for the Indian side as well as a series win against the West Indies away from home.  Several current Indian players have spoken highly of the legendary leg-spinner’s coaching ability. In an interview with Cricbuzz, Pujara noted that Kumble helped him and several other Indian players.

Rahul Dravid

The batting legend has been the head of National Cricket Academy and has successfully coached the Indian U19 and India A teams over the last few years. His success in honing the skills of the youngsters as well as winning  a world tournament (the 2018 Under 19 World Cup) puts forward a good case for him to head the senior setup. Several young players have cited his guidance as having played a role in improving their cricket.

Prithvi Shaw told Cricbuzz, “He never tried to force his style on other players or told them to make any changes in their style of batting. He never told me to curb my natural style. He only talked about the mental aspect of the game…He’d only interfere if we repeated our mistakes.”

The India team, at present, have several players who have been coached by him in the U19s, A team or national setup (given Dravid’s appointment as coach for the Sri Lanka tour), and given his stature as a player, it shouldn’t be difficult for him to get in tune with the senior squad.

Mahela Jayawardene

The Sri Lankan coach has achieved signficant success with the Mumbai Indians, and has forged a successful partnership with Rohit Sharma. He has won three IPL trophies out of his four seasons as the Mumbai coach and has turned the franchise into a formidable beast. Jayawardene has been a highly sought-after coach in the world of T20 franchise cricket and was recently coaching the Southern Brave in the Hundred.
Given that India will possibly see a scenario of split-captaincy after the ICC T20 World Cup, Indian could look for a specialist coach to partner with a new captain. While, Rohit Sharma’s appointment is not certain, if India do go with the Mumbai opener as the captain in T20, there will be few coaches who know him better than Jayawardene.

Mike Hesson

The RCB’s director of cricket, might be interested in the role, as he was reported to have applied for the position of Indian coach in 2019. The 46-year-old has an impressive resume as a coach, having had success with New Zealand, which saw them improve in Test cricket as well as reach their first ever final of the ICC Men’s ODI World Cup. He is well-known as being a calm influence on the teams he’s been attached to.

Virat Kohli remains the Indian skipper in Tests and ODIs, and Hesson can be a good choice to team up with Virat and help India continue their excellent form in the longer formats. Another who could work well if the roles are split.

Gary Kirsten

Perhaps, the most successful coach in Indian history, Kirsten lead India through a golden phase which saw the team win the ICC Men’s World Cup and achieve the number one position in the ICC Test rankings. While, it’s been a decade since he coached India, his tenure has been commended for his behind-the-scenes work and bringing in the right personnel.

MS Dhoni

Talk about trophy winners in Indian cricket, and the first name that comes to mind is MS Dhoni. A lot can be read between the lines with respect to the Indian legend’s appointment as the mentor of the Indian team for the T20 World Cup in the UAE. The wily tactician is the second most successful Indian Test captain, and is the only captain to have ever won the T20 World Cup, the World Cup and the Champions Trophy.

We can’t tell if his appointment as the team mentor is a short-term measure or if the powers that be are testing thewaters to see how the Indian team does under the guidance of Dhoni. Irrespective, the presence of Captain Cool can yield benefits other than his superb understanding of the limited overs game. It is not easy to manage a side filled with mega superstars, and MS Dhoni can be one person, given his stature and performances in the game, who can keep the team together and help them deliver to the best of their potential.

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